Volume 5, No. 2-3, February-March 2004


Operation All Clear

Could the bullets suppress the aspirations of Nationalities?



The fortnight long Indian army attack, starting from December 14th, on Ulfa (United Liberation Front of Assam), NDFB National Democratic Front of Bodoland), KLO’s (Kamatapur Liberation Organisation) military camps in Bhutan had been schemed years before by the Government of India(GOI). As soon as the Bhutan government succumbed to the dictates of the Indian government, India has lost no time in launching its vicious attack on the thirty odd camps of nationality guerrillas.

Every one knows that ULFA had been running military camps since the 1990’s and NDFB from much before. They had an understanding with Bhutan to continue such camps. Successive Indian governments had been putting pressure on Bhutan and negotiations were going on between these groups and Bhutan since some time.

Due to Indian government pressure on Bhutan the latter colluded with India, and gave consent for the flush out scheme without giving adequate preparations for the vacation of guerrilla camps and before the conclusion of the talks.

After successfully dragging the NSCN(IM) into " peace talks", the GOI made best efforts to lure ULFA and NDFB to follow suit. After failing in persuading them to join the " main stream"- an euphemism for surrender- the GOI used all means to pressurise the Thimpu government to allow the Indian army to attack the guerrilla camps.

In the aftermath of 9/11
US frenzy of the "war on terrorism" is used by many third world countries to pursue their own agenda of suppression of people’s wars and national liberation struggles. The US is actively collaborating in this venture.

The US declared the CPN(Maoist) as a ‘terrorist’ organisation. It has granted millions of dollars and gave logistic support to suppress the Maoists there. In the name of curbing the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines, the US pressed its troops and experts into Philippines to lend clandestine support to the Philippines army in its suppression campaign of the CPP and the Moro nationalities. The US government declared Jose Maria Sison, founder Chairman of CPP, as a "terrorist". His movements were restricted and his bank accounts were frozen.

At home, after September 11th, there has been a leap in Indo-US relations. The US has accepted India’s position as a regional boss in South Asian affairs.  Just short of a military pact, the Indo-US military nexus is becoming closer and stronger. The US is not only meddling in South Asian affairs, it is actively co-operating with the Indian ruling classes. The US is fully supporting the GOI’s suppression campaign of Kashmir. Earlier the US had aided the Indian government in bringing the NSCN(IM) come around to peace talks. The US has a role in putting pressure on Bhutan to allow the Indian army to " clear the military camps".

It was totally an Indian Operation

It was totally planned by the Indian Army. Bhutan neither has the wherewithal nor has that training to fight the Ulfa and NDFB. Its total army itself is 5000. Fighting the 3000 odd guerillas of Ulfa, NDFB, and KLO, who are well trained, with battle experience and well equipped with superior weaponry, was unthinkable. Bhutan army’s last battle was in 1885. The Indian government can not dupe any by saying that it was the RBA’s operation only.

The Indian media knows well that it is entirely an Indian operation, but the Indian government through Bhutan effectively blockaded the media to enter the operational area to prevent it from getting any contrary evidence. Despite this, the media came out confirming the Indian Army’s participation. The Hindustan Times writes: "Though both Thimpu and New Delhi claimed that the operation was being conducted by the RBA (Royal Bhutan Army), there are indications that it could be a joint operation ….. The Indian Army did not confirm its deployment, but intelligence sources said a joint operation was underway". In a way it was ‘joint’ operations, because the RBA personnel were used as shields before the Indian army entered. That was why, according to RBA’s official count, there were more than hundred Bhutan army’s casualties in the operations. The Indian Army reported only a single casuality.

The fact is that around 15,000 Indian army personnel led the attack on the thirty odd camps of ULFA, NDFB, and KLO. Apart from this, an entire division of the 11 battalions had been deployed along the borders of Bengal and Assam. Hundreds of army’s trucks and tens of helicopters were pressed into the operation.

False logic from Bhutan

Bhutan gave totally false reasons for operation flush out of the militants. It was with full knowledge of the Bhutan govt. from that the militants entered Bhutan territory and had clear permission of them. Several times they had bilateral and multi-lateral talks with Ulfa. In fact there was an agreement in 2001, as per this, Ulfa vacated some camps. The Bhutan spokesperson said that Bhutan had to take this action since the militants were a threat to their economy. The fact is that the militants never interfered in the internal affairs of Bhutan. The reality is that the presence of militants greatly benefited Bhutan’s economy. That was why the jailed Ulfa’s vice Chairman, Pradeep Gogoi, told the media that "Bhutan betrayed the Ulfa". It is Bhutan that has betrayed, but the Ulfa’s call, asking Bhutanese to quit Assam, is inappropriate. 

Violation of Bhutan’s Sovereignty

This is not the first time that India has violated the sovereign rights of neighbouring counties. With the support of one or the other powerful imperialist power, India wants to be regional boss in South Asia. With its relatively big economy and military might and the blessings of the imperialist powers, India is ambitious about its expansionist designs. It attacked China in 1962 and cried foul. It sent its armies into East Pakistan in 1971. It occupied Sikkim. It is continuing unequal treaties with Nepal. It played a role in killing the Nepal King Birendra, aiding the present Gyanedra. It helped the LTTE with the aim of weakening the Jayavardhane govt.

Now, violating all International norms, it entered Bhutan’s soil and did a big military campaign. It coerced Bhutan to consent under various threats. The Indian government does not have the courage to say that Bhutan has asked us to do the operations. The Indian government clearly lied to the Indian people by not placing the truth behind the present operation. Shamelessly, the India government, in the January SAARC meeting, praised the Bhutan’s surrender as a model one. Bhutan has to pay a big price for this. So far it restrained India’s military entry, despite being a small country. But now it has compromised its sovereignty. India will not stop with this favour.

When Ulfa asked for the help of China for entry of the guerillas who were under the army’s persecution, China blatantly rejected the plea of Aravind Rajhkowa, chairman of Ulfa. Now that China has transformed into a capitalist country no revolutionary can expect any help from it. It is no more Mao’s China when Mao declared that every revolutionary has a right to utilise China’s space and armory in a true spirit of internationalism.


In an interview to an Assam periodical, Paresh Barua, the Commander-in-Chief of Ulfa, said that the operations caused a set back. It was a set back in the sense that they lost a number of guerrillas, and some were captured while a few surrendered. Also they lost military bases, which was a serious loss to them. But considering the magnitude of the operation, and the odds the guerillas had to face in the onslaught with the Indian army surrounding them from all sides, still the majority of cadre of Ulfa and NDFB could survive and escape, though there were serious losses to the KLO. In this encirclement and suppression campaign, around 150 were killed, more than 500 were captured, including 74 Women and children. It is true that important leaders too were captured. The Indian army bragged about victory. It claimed that the "militants backbone was broken". The Indian Army is showing many of the captured guerillas as surrendered ones. The truth is that the majority of the guerrillas escaped the dragnet of the Indian army, despite peak winter and want of rations, the guerrillas are on the process of shifting the bases to other areas.

The ‘Operation all clear’ was widely opposed by the people of Assam. Even those who did not subscribe to the demand of Swadin Asom too, condemned the gruesome killing of guerrillas. When the Ulfa, NDFB, and KLO gave a bandh call for Assam and parts of Bengal, condemning the army operations and for the handing over of dead bodies of guerrillas, there was wide spread support. The Indian army spread the rumour, to demoralise the movement, that the senior leader of Ulfa, Bhimakant Buragohain, was killed. The Indian government did not expect that there would be such a wide spread condemnation against the military operation. People demanded for a political resolution of the conflict rather than a military solution by the Indian army. Ulfa reiterated the demand of talks on the demand of sovereignty of Assam in a neutral and third country.
The Indian government, typical to its character, denied the demand and asked for the total surrender and declared "amnesty" for the surrender. The Ulfa immediately rejected the amnesty offer and vowed to continue the struggle. To an interview to Asomiya Khabar, Paresh Barua said that it faced similar set backs earlier and it could overcome such difficulties with the support of people of Assam.

As long as the aspirations of various nationalities are not fulfilled, the struggles can not be suppressed by brute force. There would be ups and downs, troubles and tribulations. By being resolute and tenaciously sticking to the cause, problems could be overcome. Ulfa and NDFB had earlier passed through difficult times. They have seen Operation Bajrang. They vacated their camps on a large scale in a very short time. They had to vacate their Kachin bases in Burma as the Indian government befriended the Kachins. They have seen bad times in Bangladesh too when Sheik Hasina, who is pro-India, came to power and captured Ulfa’s then secretary, Anoop Chetia. The taming of the NSCN(IM) is also another disadvantage to the north east guerillas.

The intensity with which globalisation and war on nations have been going on will bound to sharpen the contradiction between imperialism and nations and the world people. Even the facade of sovereign right of nations is being thrown away to the dustbins in the onslaught of globalisation. The road map drawn by the US imperialists is blown to smithereens. In India all gimmicks on the "peace plans" to solve the Kashmir problem became futile. The present betrayal by the Naga leadership will soon be rejected by the freedom loving people and cadre of the Naga nation, who, once again have no other go except to continue the legacy of fighting.

The fighting nationalities of north-east will definitely overcome the difficulties and soon march forward.




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